Christopher appears in his chair, only to find Nimmie Not already present in the misty, changing ambience of the Cauldron, seated in a stone throne carved with bones and roses.
Christopher: That seat is from the tower’s reflection on the other side of the Door in The Hand and the Eye of the Tower.
Nimmie Not: (wagging a finger at Christopher) Now, now, are you spoilering potential readers again?
Christopher: Not really.
Nimmie Not: No, not really, but it is a fine chair, a chair indeed. I wonder if Quartz would like it?
Christopher: Bone and rose patterns are more to Oriana’s taste than Quartz’s.
Nimmie Not: Ah, well, that in itself would make this seat distasteful! (He claps his hands together.) Still it is a distinctive seat, yes, indeed. I can see why little Danyel would think his beloved Tayel would like it.
Christopher: There’s a lot about the twins I find mysterious, yet hauntingly familar.
Nimmie Not: Another pretty, contractictory statement I’ve come to expect from you. (He runs his bony hands over the arms of the seat, which are shaped like twisting vines.) Didn’t you help poor little Danyel into this chair after stealing some of his warmth while you carried him through the Door?
Christopher: Now that is a spoiler, although it’s not exactly true.
Nimmie Not: (he chuckles and claps) No, you weren’t altogether yourself at the time, yet when are you ever? Besides give a little, get a little. You created Danyel, didn’t you, at least in part? Both him and Tayel?
Christopher: You’re dropping spoilers right and left. That’s just petty, Nimmie Not.
Nimmie Not: Hah! Well, I’ll leave off those finished, yet unpolished novels our scribbler sits upon like an awkward hen and return to the top of last week. (He leans forward.) You said your Happily Ever After was Damian and the twins. How so?
Christopher: I begin and end with Damian. I cannot imagine an existence without him, although I tried to live one out for his sake.
Nimmie Not: You mean becoming Gabrielle’s son, helping her out at the Navel, living Damian’s life in Omphalos, while Damian himself takes a little jaunt through the Shadow Forest?
Christopher: (looking away) Yes.
Nimmie Not: (tapping with spindly fingers on the stone beneath them) You liked your life. You didn’t want to return to the Shadow Forest, yet you couldn’t leave Damian there, even if he wished to be left. (He raises his legs, kicking out his heels while sitting.) Oh, the wicked disregard we show for those we love, out of the very love we bear them!
Christopher: Aren’t you doing the same thing to Quartz?
Nimmie Not: Of course! (He leaps in his feet, swings a leg in the air, and begins to dance a slow jig around Christopher.) Poor, dopey dwarf with nothing but rocks for company, until I force my company upon him. Company and a cuckoo clock! I give him a new home, a snug little burrow in an enchanted forest, somewhere away from all the rocks, and what does he do? Takes in a human stray and whacks himself over the head with her problems!
Christopher: Wasn’t that a spoiler?
Nimmie Not: Yes and no. If people have read Fairest, they’ll have noticed some of that. Don’t think I haven’t noticed. (He stops dancing.) You’re doing it again, you devious little shadow.
Christopher: Doing what?
Nimmie Not: Distracting me. Getting me talk about Quartz and myself instead of you. (He puts his hands on his hips.) Let’s return to the subject at hand, shall we? That subject being your Happily Ever After.
Christopher: (leaning back in his seat) What part do you wish to return to?
Nimmie Not: The twins. How are they your Happily Ever After?
Christopher: I helped create them from my own essence. Danyel and Tayel are part of me, yet they’re shaping their own existence, their own unique individuality. From that individuality, a future is forming, a potentially brighter one than any I’ve been able to create.
Nimmie Not: Oh, that’s all very pretty, little shadow. It’s sweet, how noble your intentions are towards the twins, yet you feel an arachnocrat’s hunger for them, do you not?
Christopher: (He doesn’t answer. He looks down at his own folded hands in his lap.)
Nimmie Not: Hah! I thought so! (In an abrupt motion, he sits down again.) You yearn to drain that essence which was once yours, delicately flavoured with the twins’ fragile individuality. Don’t deny that you do.
Christopher: (lowering his head) I suppose I’m still a shadow, no matter what else I try to be.
Nimmie Not: Yes, you are. (He stabs a finger at Christopher.) I wonder if you didn’t create those sweet little darlings as a way of taking revenge upon Leiwell.
Christopher: (looking up slowly) Revenge?
Nimmie Not: Leiwell consumed your precious Damian Ashelocke when he came into existence, swallowing his essence. How exquisitely malicious it would be to give that hungry young shadow someone precious to him, only to take those precious creatures away. To drain every drop of them, or perhaps to trick Leiwell into draining them himself?
Christopher: Is that what you think I’m doing? Mirroring the void in Leiwell which exists within myself?
Nimmie Not: Hah! Is there any need to?
Christopher: No, there isn’t. I have a plan to get Damian back from Leiwell and yes, it does involve the twins. I shouldn’t have to devour them in order to carry it out.
Nimmie Not: Ah, but you long to. You long to consume your Happily Ever After, make it a part of yourself again. Perhaps you would finally be free if you did.
Christopher: What makes you think I want to be free?
Nimmie Not: Eh?
Christopher: You were free. You went where you wished, did what you wished, enchanted whomever you wished, only to allow your fate, your very self to be bound to Quartz’s.
Nimmie Not: I’ve always been bound to Quartz, even while I bounded around without a care in the world. (He fidgets.) I’m not sure if I’ve ever been free in the manner you describe.
Christopher: Neither have I. If I were to be free, I’d imagine being quite lonely.
Nimmie Not: Maybe. (He fidgets again.)
Christopher: Think of it, having no ties to anyone. Adrift. Apart. Floating through existence without anyone.
Nimmie Not: Fine, you win! (He leaps out of his seat.) I don’t want to be free, nor do I want to float! (He starts to spin around and stamp.) Why do either if I can dance? (He disappears.)
Christopher: You know what I mean. (He gazes at the empty space.) Quartz, I wonder how you’re going to keep up with that one. (He smiles a little.) You’re going to have to learn to dance, if nothing else.
(There’s a “Hmmph!” which carries through the air in response to this.)